The maximum length of a short film for the Cannes Court Metrage is 15 minutes (including the end credits). Accordingly, if your film is 16 minutes long, you will no longer be included in the Cannes Competition. For this reason, the Short Film Corner is available Out of Competition.

What is the ideal length for a short film? Of course, the length is determined first and foremost by the artistic merits of the work. However, some factors can be taken into consideration to help promote a film.

Film festivals have different ways of determining the maximum length of a short film. For example, Sundance accepts short films of up to 50 minutes. Our festival accepts films up to 45 minutes in length. The film festivals of Locarno, Clermont-Ferrand, and the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) allow 40 minutes for a short film. For the Berlinale Shorts program, the maximum running time is 30 minutes, the Berlinale Generation is 20 minutes.

How the length affects the selection of films for film festivals we have already discussed in detail in the article “Do non-artistic factors affect film selecting?” Here are the statistics for our short film festival for the last three years. We have taken about 200 short films that have been selected and screened at the festival. We have divided these films into four groups by running time 0-7 minutes, 8-15, 16-30, and 31-45 minutes. Below you can see the proportion of films submitted and selected based on section (category) and genre. For simplicity and convenience, we have divided the programs into animation (video art), fiction (narrative), documentary, and thematic films.

lenghth of fiction short film

As you can see, the proportion of  fiction films submitted and the proportion of fiction films selected do not differ much here. Ultra-short narrative films have difficulty competing with longer films.

lenght short documentary films

The documentary of the shorter forms wins over the longer forms compared to the fiction section.

submitted and selected short films

The length of animation, video art, and experimental art works is irrelevant to the selection of films basically.

Here we see the same pattern of irrelevance. Here we included thematic, national, special sections, which tend to include different genres and styles.

Time has not only an external representation in cinema but also an internal one. The external forms of time are reflected in the duration of the film, its tempo, and its rhythm. Time is even able to be the narrative protagonist. For example, in Nolan’s Interstellar, where time itself becomes one of the characters in the narrative. Human memory is capable of reproducing past events. Our minds can simulate the future. In the same way, cinema can be analogized to human consciousness. J. Deleuze described this possibility of cinema as a transition to image-time from image-movement. It would seem that the plot of The Wolf of Wall Street has a linear structure, with events occurring one after another, unlike Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. But it doesn’t. Scorsese’s film is a continuous flashback. The events have already happened. The narrator takes us into his past. The past, the future, and the present meet at the end of the film. The juxtaposition of different times at one point can make up the drama of a movie.

Tarkovsky, in Sculpting in Time, says that just as the material for painting was paint, for sculpture stone or wood, for literature the word, for music the sound, so for cinema the material is time. If film is art, it is the art of time.

In this regard, the filmmaker must have unlimited freedom in choosing the length of his film.